So, Mike Martz will be interviewing with Mike Nolan on Monday. We all have certain preconceived notions about the mastermind of the Greatest Show on Turf. I certainly did not see him as a guy who could fit in with the 49ers and their existing personal. So, I decided the best thing to do is get a scouting report on Mike Martz. For the draft and free agency I spoke with other SB Nation blogs and they were quite helpful. So, I spoke with Sean over at Pride of Detroit, our Lions blog. I asked him to give me a rundown on Martz including what he brings to and takes away from the table as an offensive coordinator. Here's what Matt had to say:
The reason that Mike Martz was fired by the Lions is simple: The lack of a consistent running game bothered the coaches and some players. Martz favored the pass greatly in his first season in Detroit (2006), but really took it to a new level in 2007. If the running game wasn't working, he'd give up on it in some games, and then in others the running game would just be put to the side from the start. Although many, including myself, fault Martz greatly for that, I can't blame him completely. Considering how bad the Lions' offensive line really is and the fact that Kevin Jones is nowhere near as good as Martz's old running back in St. Louis (Marshall Faulk), you can sort of see where Martz was coming from. Even if that may be true, he shouldn't have been so inconsistent with his gameplans, and at the same time, shouldn't be so difficult to work with.
If Martz does end up in San Francisco I think he would do well. If he can make Jon Kitna a 4,000 yard passer in back-to-back seasons, then I'm sure he can at least make Alex Smith a decent QB. With a great running back like Frank Gore, I highly doubt he would favor the passing game as much as he did in Detroit, and at the same time, I doubt any offensive line is as bad as Detroit's, so he would have a reason to run the ball with the 49ers.
What Martz brings to the table is a stubborn attitude of doing things his way. That is good when it comes to making players better and putting up a lot of points, but when things start to go bad, getting him to change his ways can be nearly impossible. The reason the Lions' previous o-line coach (from 2006) got fired was because he couldn't get along with Martz well enough to coexist simply because Martz believes so much in his own way of doing things. Again, that can be great at times, but when things don't always work out, it can get ugly.
All in all, I think Martz would fit in well with San Francisco simply because of the personnel. Although the 49ers don't have great receivers or a great QB, that's really not necessary. Martz brought in a one time safety in Mike Furrey and turned him into a league leader in catches last year. Then this season, Shaun McDonald, who really was only known for being a receiver low on the depth, had a great season and was a solid target for Kitna. I think as long as the other coaches are willing to work with him and he is willing to utilize Frank Gore, then Martz would fit in well with the 49ers.
While I'm still a little concerned about a guy like Martz running our offense, that last paragraph certainly makes me curious to see what he could do with our receiving threats. There is also the be worry about him abandoning the run, but I think he recognizes the value of a guy like Frank Gore. We're not talking Kevin Jones coming off surgery, Tatum Bell and TJ Duckett.
I would still prefer Cam Cameron because of the comparisons one can see between the 49ers and Chargers (Tomlinson and Gates vs. Gore and The Disease). However, as is the case with Chan Gailey, there really is more than meets the eye when it comes to Mike Martz. In the meantime, Matt Maiocco put together Mike Martz's before and after team rankings in St. Louis and Detroit. The rushing offense rankings are certainly not impressive. I'd like to think Nolan would inquire with Martz about these areas and what his plan would be with Frank Gore. On the passing side of things, if he could even get the 49ers into the top 20 in passing, that would be a drastic improvement.
So the title of this asks if Martz is a mad genius, a mad ego or both. I think the answer is both. Sometimes ego is necessary to be truly great and maybe Martz needs that stubborn ego to think he can turn any quarterback into a great quarterback, and any offensive unit into a great offensive unit.